Crack CAT in 3 months

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    Jay Puranik is pursuing his PGDM from IIM Calcutta. He served as the External Relations Secretary at IIM C and led the Mentorship Programme covering 1700 domestic and 45 international candidates shortlisted for admission into IIMC for the Postgraduate programme of 2013-2015.

    CAT is not a mystery, it is a combination of Hard Work + Intelligence + Luck (only because of the online format). You can't change luck. All you can do in 3 months is adjust you hard-work settings and try not to harm your intelligence too much. I too had to prepare for CAT in under 2-3 months of serious preparation and found the following points working in my favour.

    1. Regularity: It is actually more difficult to prepare for CAT when you have the whole year to prepare! The pressure brought about due to the double-digit countdown of days to CAT is actually the best kick-in-the-ass needed to get started. This is particularly effective when you have just 3-4 months to prepare starting from scratch. But you have to be regular - at least a couple of sectional tests and a-once-a-week full-length Mock CAT is the right way forward.

    2. Screw theory and classroom coaching: Yes, SCREW them both. You will waste your time in crash-courses especially if you are a working person. You will only exhaust yourself and have to undergo a heavy course in a short period of time. The thing is, every CAT taker is almost unique in terms of topics of ease and topics of discomfort. So sit down alone at home (or maybe with a small group of blokes preparing seriously for CAT with you) and focus on your weak areas initially and towards the last few weeks, master all your strong areas again. Join a test series that offers sectional tests, topic-wise tests and full-length Mock CATs (especially if conducted at the national level).

    3. Analyze performances in Mock CATS: Everyone reiterates it and almost always does this advice go unheard. Don't give 20 Mock CATs and feel good about yourself. Give one or at most two Mock CATs in any given week and spend ages analyzing everything. Most people get even this part wrong. Analyze does not mean checking which all questions you got wrong alone. Pay heed to the topics and types of questions that you are consistently doing well at. Find these questions in your real CAT and tackle them ASAP once the test begins. Also, your analysis should reveal to you which areas are hurting you - in terms of time spent as well as in terms of accuracy. If you have over a month to go, focus on improving these areas. Else forget them and avoid them at all costs in the actual CAT.

    4. Breaks in between sessions of study: They're more important than you think. Absorb all you have learnt in a session rather than running through a gamut of concepts and applying only a few of them ahead.

    5.One problem; multiple approaches: Most important trick. Take a simple problem and try solving it in many different ways. It helps you cultivate a quick-thinking ability and gives you contingency strategies in case you get stuck in the real CAT.

    That apart, chill out lots. A calm head with perhaps a gentle buzz of tranquility can get you a higher percentile in CAT than many hours of sleepless study the night before.

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